Cooking white rice should not be challenging. As long as you know the tips and tricks in the kitchen, you are sure to have an enticing bowl of fluffy rice. Get to know these 5 super simple tips on how to cook perfect white rice at home.
Debunking White Rice Mystery
Some people really find it challenging to cook white rice at home. Often, I hear my friends complain about their rice was too hard, the next thing was too mushy, and worst, burnt.
To be honest, I was the same. Until I have demystified the spell of cooking rice. 😛
Nope, there is no curse when it comes to cooking a perfect bowl of rice. It takes a lot of practice for me to finally get it right, but then I realized there are way better options to cook it perfectly.
And, no, you don’t need to be an Asian or of Asian descent to be a rice expert.
All you need is these 5 super simple tips on how to cook perfect white rice. Read along to find out!
#5 Don’t Confuse your Grain Size to its Water Ratio
This is where the usual fault lies, adding the correct water ratio based on the grain size.
Well, I saw a lot of people following the general rule of 1:1 or a cup of water to a cup of rice. Although it may work most of the time, you will not achieve that ‘perfect’ rice criteria.
The first thing to note here is the mode of preparation. Are you going to cook rice in a rice cooker, or on a stovetop?
You see, there is a slight difference between the measurements of these two cooking methods.
Most rice cookers have included a measuring cup in the package. This cup is quite smaller than the standard one cup size.
But, here’s a general rule for the rice to water ratio:
- A cup of long-grain white rice should have 1 and 3/4 cups of water
- 1 cup of short-grain white rice must use 1 and 1/4 cup of water
What About the Knuckle Method?
Trying some awesome tricks would be cool and fun but if you are starting out, it pays to stick with the usual. Unless you already figured out how to do the knuckle method, then why not use it?
I read some posts that you can simply add the rice in whatever cooker you will use and pour water. Measure it with your index finger.
Your index finger should be on top of the rice surface and the water should reach the first line of your index.
I honestly tried, but I got very soft rice, close to pudding texture. 😛 This is because my fingers are thin and small and we all got different hand sizes so it’s really quite confusing to use this method.
However, to be precise, you can stick to the above-given measurements to avoid an epic fail rice cooking!
#4 Rinsing And Washing White Rice Matters
Washing rice before cooking was, in fact, an ancient practice. However, there are no definite reasons as to why our ancestors were doing this method.
Some blogs stated that it was used to soften the rice before cooking while some said it was a cultural practice.
But, quite off-topic, I found an interesting history that the Japanese women used to keep the rice water and use for skin and hair treatment. This is still pending on my to-do list! 🙂
Apart from this, we cannot deny that rice culture in Japan is very alive until today.
Today, we wash and rinse rice before cooking to remove starch, dust, and dirt, especially that most of our rice are packed and imported worldwide.
Aside from removing harmful elements, washing and rinsing rice also make it soft when cooked. Ideally, you can wash rice under clean running cold water. Fluff the rice with your fingers and mix thoroughly.
You need to repeat this process until the water runs clear. Based on scientific explanations, we wash and rinse rice to eliminate excess starch, dirt, and dust that might be present or been accumulated during packing and shipping.
Starch is released when two or more grains rub against each other making the cooked rice sticky. If you notice, the water is almost cloudy during rinsing.
What about Soaking?
Most people in some parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, practice soaking the rice overnight to make it softer, more separate and fluffy. They particularly use Basmati rice since its grains are dry and separate when cooked.
Soaking rice for about 30 minutes will also soften the grains and shorten the cooking time. However, if you intend to soak the rice, you need to adjust the water ratio.
All kinds of rice can be soaked, you can stick to the 1:1 rule in case you would like to try this method.
#3 Buying the Freshest White Rice You Can Find
I know it sounds trivial but many people do not pay attention to it. Buying and consuming rice that has been harvested and packed on the same year is the best grain to use to achieve cooking perfection.
The next time you go to the grocery, look for rice packed and labeled on the same year.
Freshly harvested rice is soft and aromatic even when you use the plain or regular white rice only. I suggest that you only buy the exact amount you need for the given meal.
If you have rice grains left, be sure to store it properly using a tight-lid container and place it in the cabinet.
Be careful with bugs and insects trying to fit themselves in!
#2 Let Your Rice Rest Before Serving
Do you also notice the rice served at the restaurants? I usually stare at them for a few good seconds and make my judgments.
I notice that their rice is very soft, fluffy, and so enticing! I ask one of my chef friends and he said that the key to cooking a perfect bowl of white rice is letting it rest.
It may sound a little weird but hey, it does really matter. The science behind this is that the steam that the rice release will soften it more.
The best thing to do is, right after all the water is gone, reduce the heat to the lowest and let it sit for about 10 minutes. After the given time, you can turn off the heat and let it rest for another 5-10 minutes.
At this point, the steam will be the one to cook the rice perfectly! Another important step you shouldn’t miss is to fluff it with a fork or spatula while your rice is resting. This is to ensure that the steam will reach the bottom parts too.
#1 Add Extra Flavors
I don’t know about you but I find a bowl of rice already enticing! 😀 This is because you can add some flavor and bring life to your ordinary white rice.
Adding oil or butter glistens the grains. If you notice some white rice really sparkling from a distance, that my friends, is the secret!
Another option is to add salt and some of your favorite spices such as cardamom, cumin, saffron, and many more!
Now that we learned these 5 super simple tips on how to cook perfect white rice, it’s time to discuss the cooking technique.
Basically, you can cook rice in any convenient way for you.
However, there is an ongoing battle against the stovetop method vs. rice cooker when it comes to rice cooking, especially in Asian countries.
The stove-top method has been pretty much the basic and standard way. There are several reasons why a lot of people still prefer stove-top.
It’s uncomplicated and very practical. You don’t need to spend extra time for another appliance which will also require extra space on the kitchen counter. You can cook almost anything on your cooking stove, right?
Let’s figure out their main differences:
Rice on Stovetop
- Measure the desired cup of rice to cook
- Wash and rinse. Remember that some rice species should not be washed too many times like white jasmine rice!
- Put rice in a saucepan, add your optional seasoning/ingredients and add the correct water ratio.
- Cover the pan and let it boil for about 15-20 minutes or until all water is absorbed. It all depends on the cooking method and rice species.
- Turn the heat to its lowest and leave it covered for another 5-10 minutes
- Fluff the rice with a fork and turn off the heat. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving
Using a Rice Cooker
- Measure the right amount of rice with a special measuring cup
- Wash and rinse
- Place it in the rice cooker pot and add seasoning/ingredients
- Add the correct amount of water (everything is in the attached user manual)
- Turn on the option of cooking white rice
See the difference?
The process is almost similar but the time consumed during the preparation and the cooking itself is different.
With stovetop, you have to be present in every step or else your rice might get burned or too wet.
With the rice cooker, you simply have to add the rice, water and turn the cooker on! You don’t have to be there to monitor and check the heat or the entire cooking process.
You can practically plug the cooker in and leave.
By using the stovetop, your full attention is needed because you need to manually adjust the flame. In my opinion, using rice cooker is simply convenient.
What’s the Best Rice Cooker to Use?
There are many rice cookers on the market, they differ from each other by many features, technology etc. It’s difficult to decide which one to choose. I recommend you Zojirushi Zojirushi NS-ZCC10.
This particular model is perfect for on-the-go people who love eating rice but don’t have much time cooking. Rice cooked in this rice cooker is delicious and fluffy, not sticky.
It is equipped with microcomputer technology called Neuro-Fuzzy Logic.
Modern Technology in Rice Cookers
Fuzzy logic technology is used in most modern equipment we see such as washing machines, refrigerators, and now, the rice cookers.
When we say fuzzy logic, it’s more of letting the device “think and act on its own” like there is a human interference but minus our presence.
Yup, it’s quite modern yet a very fulfilling investment. Every rice you cook in this model comes out perfect because of this innovation.
When you have added extra water, it cooks your rice by managing the heat all over the pot surface, on top, middle, and at the bottom. Making sure, all water is absorbed and will cook the rice well.
The cooking time depends on the amount of water you have put, the type of grain you used and the cooking setting you have selected.
Apart from that, you can also cook various dishes in this cooker such as pasta, fried rice, eggs, stews, soups, and even steam meat and veggies.
Is This Fancy Rice Cooker Worth the Price?
When we say fancy, we often only think about the price and disregarding the features this equipment can offer. In my opinion, if you like to eat great rice and want to cook it in a convenient and simple way, rice cooker is the perfect solution for you.
Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is a wise investment. This model is currently the number one brand in Japan, its country of origin as well.
We just covered the 5 super simple tips on how to cook perfect white rice. I hope you learned and apply this the next time you are cooking rice at home.
Remember that from choosing the grain to using the right amount of water, down to rinsing, and resting rice are very important factors in achieving the perfect consistency.
Also, in this post I described to you two ways of cooking rice, stovetop method and rice cooker. If you’re skilled at cooking rice on your stove and you think you are good at it, that’s great. But if you value your time and want to cook rice like in a Japanese restaurant in a very simple way, rice cooker is the solution for you.